Spring is here in the northern hemisphere and that means many people will be getting their bikes out of their garages, basements, or sheds for the first time this year. If the bike has been sitting dormant all winter, there’s a good chance the tires have gone flat. You might be able to just pump them up. Or you might need to replace the inner tube.
Replacing an inner tube on a bicycle is a job you can do yourself. There are three things that you’ll need to do this properly. In the video below I demonstrate how to remove the old inner tube and replace it with a new one. Before you watch the video there are three things you’ll need to have handy.
- Tire levers
- A new inner tube.
Why you need tire levers!
As I emphasize in the video, tire levers are a must have. If you try to use a screwdriver you will damage your tire and or your rim. Both of those are way more expensive than a set of tire levers. A set of tire levers costs about $6. A new tire will set you back at least three times that much.
What size tube do you need?
If you’re not sure what size tube you need, look at the size of your tire that is printed on it. Tubes are sold in corresponding sizes or size ranges. For example, in my video I’m replacing a tube for a tire that is 700c x 25mm. The package on the tube that I purchased stated that it’s for tires 700x x 23mm-28mm. Of course, you can always ask the folks at your local bike shop for the right size tube (just make sure you know your tire size).
Use a bike pump. Not a gas station compressor.
There are two kinds of air valves found on bicycle inner tubes. A schrader valve is like those that you find on car tires and on a lot of bikes made for kids and made for beach cruising. A presta valve is what’s more commonly found on road, mountain, and hybrid bikes. The best thing to do is to get a pump like this one that accommodates both valve styles.
You might be tempted to use a gas station air compressor to fill bike tires. That sometimes works in a pinch. I don’t recommend it because it’s way too easy to overfill a tube with a gas station air compressor.
You can patch it.
Yes, can patch small leaks in an bicycle inner tube. The best way to find a leak is to take the tube out, inflate it, then place it in a tub of water. The air will bubble out of the tube and you’ll know where the leak is. Then you can patch the leak with a simple patch kit from Park Tool. It’s possible to patch a half dozen tubes with one kit.